Bike Racks as Public Art

  • Increasing appeal with improved aesthetics

Turning bike racks into public art adds decorative touches to Portland streets

Victoria's inverted "U" includes a stencil cut out design that is attractive and clearly signals intended use.

Architects and urban planners go to great lengths to ensure street furniture in cities is attractive, appealing and fits in with surroundings.

Bike parking racks have too often been strictly utilitarian or worse - both unattractive and non-functional.

More recently many manufacturers have taken a new approach that recognizes bicycle racks as important additions to the urban environment. Ensuring that racks are functional first and attractive second is important to preserve their effectiveness. The diversity of artistic racks and other aesthetic designs points to a growing interest in meeting the demand for better bicycle parking and a desire for attractive street furniture.

One of the most creative companies is Dero Bike Rack Company out of St. Paul, Minnesota. Some of their designs are more attractive than functional, but most are good pieces that also meet the principles of good functional design for bike parking. See: Rate a rack reviews will also appear elsewhere on this website soon.

Lately numbers of cities are holding design competitions to invite artists and advocates to create new designs that provide effective bike parking while adding some funky fun to city streetscapes. See, for example, the designs of former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, a committed cyclist who has turned his artistic vision into some wonderful pieces appearing on New York City sidewalks. Their obvious functionality demonstrates his clear understanding of the principles of good bike rack design.

Elsewhere, site design, lockers and numerous other facilities assembled to provide better bike parking are beginning to show that cyclists are welcome in the transportation environment and where we stop and store is to be celebrated rather than hidden.